PREBLE COUNTY — The Preble County Athletic Hall of Fame hosted its 15th annual induction ceremony Sunday, May 28, in front of nearly 300 people at the Preble County YMCA.
The evening featured plenty of stories, laughs and a few tears as the inductees shared their stories and reflected back on their careers as athletes, coaches and contributors to sports in the county.
During its first 14 years, the PCAHoF Committee has recognized nearly a century’s worth of accomplishments — by both males and females.
This year’s class included four teams and nine individuals to bring the total number of inductees to 197 individuals and 28 teams.
John Keefe, a 1952 graduate of West Alexandria High School, was the voice of the boys’ Dayton sectional basketball tournaments, announcing games for over 30 years. Keefe also had the honor of announcing the state tournament four times. In addition, he announced basketball games for both West Alexandria and Twin Valley South for several years. Keefe was the former owner and editor of the Twin Valley News and The Advertiser in West Alexandria where he promoted athletics through the paper for several teams in surrounding areas.
Cheri Miller’s contribution to athletics began in her playing days at Preble Shawnee and continues today. Miller, a 1968 PS graduate, was a well-known volleyball official for more than three decades, including serving as the President of the Butler County Volleyball Officials Association for 28 years. Miller also coached the women’s basketball team at Miami University-Middletown for 16 years, winning two state championships. After stepping down from coaching, Miller assumed the duties of athletic director at the school. She attended Eastern Kentucky University where she played basketball, volleyball and participated in track. She is also a member of the Butler County Softball Hall of Fame.
Ron Neanen’s tenure as Eaton High School’s football coach makes him the most successful football coach in Preble County history. From 1988 to 2014, Neanen’s teams were 193-87, with seven league championships and seven playoff appearances. His 2010 team finished the regular season a perfect 10-0 and advanced to the regional final. The team finished 12-1 and remains the only Eaton football team to advance that far. Neanen was named Southwestern Buckeye League Coach of the Year eight times and the SW Ohio Coach of the Year twice. A 1975 graduate of National Trail, Neanen excelled in three sports — football, baseball and basketball — while in high school.
National Trail’s Todd Pittman, a 1987 graduate, earned nine varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and golf. After high school, Pittman, a pitcher, played four years of baseball at Wright State and ended his career with a 21-8 record. He was a three-time all-CCC performer at Trail in baseball and still holds the school record for batting average (.583) and is ranked sixth in the OHSAA record books with 20 strike outs in a game. He pitched three no-hitters during his career.
Josh Cruze, a 1990 graduate of Eaton High School, won the Division II 152-pound state wrestling championship during his senior year to help lead the Eagles to a third place finish as a team, which is the best finish at state for an Eaton wrestling team. He earned all-American honors by placing sixth in the first-ever national tournament for high school state champions. Cruze was a four-year letter-winner in wrestling and two-year letter-winner in football. He wrestled for Ohio State in 1990-92.
Ann Leedy Hall is a 1996 graduate of Twin Valley South. She earned 10 letters in volleyball, basketball and track. In basketball, she was All-Southwest Ohio District 15. In track, she was a four-year letter winner and state qualifier. In volleyball, she was a three-year varsity letter winner. Hall was Special Mention District 15 and All-Cross County Conference her junior year. In her senior year, she was All-Cross County Conference, first team District 15, All-Ohio Honorable Mention and earned Academic All-Star Award from District 15. She went on to Appalachian State University on a Division I volleyball scholarship.
Allison Hampton was a 1997 graduate of National Trail. Hampton earned 11 varsity letters in four sports (basketball, track, cross country and volleyball). She finished her basketball career with 1,067 points and was an honorable mention all-state pick her senior year. She was a three-time first team selection in the Cross County Conference. She played two years at Hanover College. During her track career, Hampton was a league champ in multiple events including being part of a school-record holding 800-meter relay team.
Ryan Clark graduated from Eaton High School in 1999 where he was one of the top runners, not only for the Eagles, but on the state level as well. Clark still holds four records at Eaton. During his time wearing the Purple and Gold, Clark was a four-time state qualifier in cross county and his 1998 team finished as state runner-up. He also excelled in track where he was a state placer in multiple events. After high school, Clark continued his running career at Tennessee and later Miami University.
Dallas Statzer, a 1999 graduate of Tri-County North, earned 12 varsity letters in three sports (football, wrestling and track). He still holds several school records. Statzer was the first wrestler from North to qualify for the state tournament and holds a career record of 114-28. He was also the first wrestler for North to compile 100 career pins. He was a state qualifier in the long jump in both his junior and senior seasons. On the gridiron, he was named the CCC Back of the Year and earned all SW Ohio honors his senior year, rushing for 1,137 yards and 19 touchdowns. He finished his football career with 2,824 rushing yard and 41 touchdowns.
The 1980 Eaton Cross Country team won 11 of the 14 meets it competed in and capped the season off with a fourth place finish at the state meet. The team placed second at the district meet and was sectional champions. Overall, the Eagles defeated 180 team during the season. Team members include David Seals, John Wright, Scott Sliver, Ned Greene, Bill Hauser, Rick McKinney, Randy McKinney, Brian Weber. The team was coached by Ed Leas.
The 1986 Twin Valley South baseball team won sectional and district titles before falling in the regional finals. The team finished the season 14-8 overall and 6-4 in the Cross County Conference. Team members include: Mike Cunningham, Jesse Phillabaum, Frank Wright, Kenny Rawlins, Steve Jutras, Doug Crouse, Dave Sizemore, Mark Clemmons, David Bingham, Jeff Cunningham, Bryan Erslan, Kenny Lehman, Mark Wiegand, Bill Schlotterbeck, Blake Duffie, Steve Naudasher and Charlie Voge. The team was coached by Jeff Akers.
The 1988 Twin Valley South baseball team reached the regional finals, where it lost 1-0 to eventual state champion Newark Catholic, and finished the season with am 18-9 record and was second in the Cross County Conference with a 9-1 mark. Team members include: Todd Gibbs, Andy Fudge, Jason Clark, Frank Wright, Chad Creech, Mike Goad, Doug Arnett, Chris Creech, Donny Sizemore, Ronald Grubb, Mike Cunningham, Steve Jutras, Danny Bassler, Doug Crouse and Mark Erslan. The team was coached by Jeff Akers.
The 1989 Preble Shawnee volleyball team enjoyed the program’s best season ever. The team went 20-1 during the regular season on its way to a 25-2 mark and finished as regional runner-up. The team won its third straight SWBL title, was district champ, and regional finalist. Team members include: Mandi Baker, Kerri Blaylock, Rhonda Began, Kristi Taylor Back row left to right-Coach Bill Moore, Susie Moses, Lori Gabbard, Lora Jones, Erica Howard, Shannah McIntosh, Lettie Combs, Krista Higgins, Dianna Timberman. The team was coached by Vicki Zimmerman.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.